Morning Bid: Trump hit steepens curve; China's economy judders

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[July 15, 2024]  (Reuters) - A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

The shock shooting on Saturday of former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a return to the White House, is reverberating around world markets, with bets that the incident boosts his re-election chances steepening the Treasury yield curve and lifting stock futures first thing.

The full implications of the gun attack on Trump, who escaped with a minor injury to his ear to head to the Republican convention in Milwaukee on Monday, may take some time for the country and investors to absorb.

But for now the simple conclusion is that the shooting likely increases Trump's already considerable chances of returning to the White House after November's election.

For most analysts trying to parse that for markets, that ups the chances of tax cut extensions and higher trade tariffs - leading to even higher U.S. fiscal deficits, even alongside potential growth headwinds and intense political pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease as inflation continues to subside near term.

Some also suspect a possible withdrawal of U.S. support for Ukraine would also up fiscal pressures in Europe, who may then have to pick up the entire financial bill left by an American retreat.

With U.S. equities expected to benefit initially from tariffs, tax cuts and a possible spur to re-shoring of manufacturing, already record high stocks tend to be called higher on the increased prospect of a Trump win too.

So first thing Monday - with betting markets now putting chances of a Trump election win close to 70% - U.S. stock futures were higher and the 2-to-30-year Treasury yield curve briefly turned positive for the first time since January.

The two-year-old yield curve inversion from two to 10 years, meantime, also squeezed to narrowest since January at just 23 basis points.

Fed chair Jerome Powell speaks in Washington later.

With short-term yields still falling in the slipstream of last week's surprising disinflation news, and futures now fully priced for a first Fed rate cut in September, but long-term yields edging higher regardless, the curve was clearly riffing off the Trump incident.

Bitcoin's jump back above $60,000 for the first time in a couple of weeks was seen as another related reaction.

And most obvious of all perhaps, Trump Media & Technology Group - majority owned by Trump - surged 63% to $50.3.

The dollar fallout more broadly is harder to figure - not least with Japanese markets closed for a holiday on Monday and following Thursday's latest round of yen-buying intervention by the Bank of Japan.

On balance, the dollar index and dollar/yen were stuck fast - with early dollar gains against Mexico's peso and China's yuan pared back a bit ahead of the open as full-year Fed easing speculation rose as high as 63 bps.

The euro and sterling held last week's gains, the latter at its best levels in a year against the dollar and in two years against the euro. Currency market volatility subsided, meantime, and three-month implied vol for the pivotal euro/dollar exchange rate fell to its lowest since late 2021.

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People walk around the Financial District near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 29, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

China's markets had a mixed reaction to another surprisingly poor set of economic readings there - second-quarter GDP growth fell to as low as 4.7%, far below the 5% that was both forecast by economists and also targeted by Beijing.

Although there was a slight beat in June industrial numbers, retail sales also missed expectations for the month.

Perhaps most alarming of all is the ongoing house price bust, with new home prices falling for the 11th straight month in May and the 3.9% annual decline being the steepest in nine years. Property investment fell 10.1% in the first half of 2024 from a year earlier, meantime, and home sales by floor area declined 19%.

Hong Kong stocks did lunge 1.5% lower and the yuan weakened slightly on interest rate cut speculation, but mainland China stocks eked out a small gain on hopes of more substantial government support.

China's ruling Communist Party starts its 'third plenum' this week. Reforms top the agenda and, amid a packed priority list, may include the most significant overhaul of the fiscal system in three decades to try to redirect income from Beijing to cash-strapped regional governments.

Back on Wall Street, the earnings season unfolds with Goldman Sachs and BlackRock next up after an underwhelming start from other big banks on Friday.

And Google parent Alphabet is in advanced talks to acquire cybersecurity startup Wiz for roughly $23 billion, in a deal that would represent the technology giant's biggest acquisition ever.

Key developments that should provide more direction to U.S. markets later on Monday:

* New York Fed's June manufacturing survey

* US corporate earnings: Goldman Sachs, BlackRock

* Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell speaks in Washington, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly speaks; European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks

* Euro group of euro zone finance ministers meet in Brussels

* U.S. Republican party convention starts

* US Treasury auctions 3-, 6-month bills

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Timothy Heritage

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